Never Over Until It’s Over
Luke Roffers qualified fifth at Fayetteville Motor Speedway in the June 7, 2014 Carolina Clash event and admitted in his victory interview that he probably was the second-fastest car in the race, late in the race, as he was sitting third with just three laps to go. Roffers had battled past Enoree, SC hotshoe Kid Quick Zack Mitchell and took over the third place position and was in a battle with second-generation driver Johnny Pursley, who captured the race fast time award.
Pursley, who chose to start the race on the inside on the first lap, led during the first ten laps of the event, keeping a hard-charging Dennis Franklin behind him, as the racers were experiencing one of the toughest track surfaces they had experienced this season. Fayetteville turned black and was very slick on the bottom, which was where most of the drivers stayed over most of the race. Pursley’s car experienced a slight push exiting turn three in the first fourth of the event, which allowed Dennis Franklin just enough room to scoot past the #09 Pursley Grading family-owned race team.
After that, Rambo was able to pull away – and for keeps. Franklin was able to race in lapped traffic for only a few laps until the event would be waived yellow with single-car spins over the next 20 laps. After the race moved to single-file restarts early in the event, Franklin restarted up front and stayed there.
As the event wound down, Pursley, Zack Mitchell, Luke Roffers and Dustin Mitchell were biding their time to finish the event on a positive note. Then, Mitchell’s Eubanks Oil Company #57 race car started to fade late in the event, which allowed Roffers and Dustin Mitchell (Three Ace’s Speed Shop/Ordess Farms #51 entry) to make passes for their spots in the top five, behind Franklin, who was a full straightaway ahead of Pursley.
Then, something happened, that left everyone scratching their heads and saying “what just happened here?”
Franklin had taken the white flag and was on his way to a solid statement victory for the M&W Towing, Longhorn racer, who seemingly could have coasted his way home behind the lapped traffic he was following. While being safely in front of Pursley by a wide margin, Franklin dove to the bottom of the track to pass the two cars running at the rear of the lead lap. Franklin’s car made contact with the #08 Quality Auto Parts entry of Michael Marlowe (#08 of Nichols, SC). The impact was so severe that it caused damage to Franklin’s car and sent Marlowe spinning, creating a pile-up in the turn three section of the racetrack.
Franklin was able to race off turn four, assumingly for the checkered-flag. His car was so damaged in the right rear suspension, that the left front was totally off the ground. At that time, race control deemed the track unsafe to complete the final lap for the rest of the field that was approaching the wrecked cars exiting turn three. One car was completely broadside in the face of the oncoming racers that were racing for the final lap. The yellow flag was displayed, halting the action on lap 39.
Then, Pursley came by the flagstand with a flat right-rear tire and went to his pit area. It is not sure as to whether or not the tire has in the process of going down throughout the race or went flat as a result of the contact from the crashed cars that he came up on during the final lap.
In the meantime, Franklin disputed the finish with series officials on the frontstretch and could not resume the race and exited to the pit area. In accordance to series rules (section 16 – Racing, Flagging and Scoring), the race director has the right to cease competition on the final lap in the event he deems that the race track is unsafe to complete the final lap. The track was clearly unsafe for the remainder of the field and the decision was made in the interest of those who were crashed and those racing back.
(16) In the event of a last lap spin, etc., the Race Director retains the option to call a caution in the interest of safety. In that event, the lineup will be reset, and the race will be completed “Green/White together followed by the Checkered.
The scoring was reset to lap 38, given that not all lead lap cars had completed lap 39, which gave Luke Roffers the race lead for the final two laps. He went on to capture his first win of the season and first since 2012, which he captured the Carolina Clash championship.
Dustin Mitchell finished a solid second place, after running only one race in the series so far in 2014. Zack Mitchell continues to improve performances in the 2014 season and raced to a third-place finish. Ricky Weeks scored another top-five run and finished fourth, with Steve Blackburn rounding out the top five. Rock Hill, SC driver Ben Watkins, the fastest qualifier at Lancaster, competed in the events at FMS and finished 11th. His team, the #16 Crescent Moon Vineyards, Heintz Performance Rocket is based out of Camden, SC and has not competed regularly on the tour since a run at the series rookie title in 2011 came up short with Chad Paxton as the wheelman. Watkins competed in the steel-head race at Fayetteville and was victorious in that event.
Chris Ferguson Wins Another at Lancaster; Series Newcomer Ben Watkins Sets Unofficial Track Record
After the 2012 event that was known as the Carolina Crown, Jared Landers qualifying time of 18.422 was determined to be the fastest time ever recorded on a transponder *(electronic scoring) system at the half-mile track in Lancaster, SC. During the hot laps of the Carolina Clash event at Lancaster on May 31, Ben Watkins of Rock Hill, SC turned a lap of 18.404, which became the fastest lap ever recorded by a super late model using a transponder system. While the lap was during hot laps, it was not considered as an official lap that broke the old track record, it will stand at least as an official one.
Watkins went on to capture the Langley Collision Center Fast Time Award for the event and pocketed the $100 bonus in the Sandwood Company, Heintz Brothers Performance Martorauno family-owned #16 Rocket Race car of Camden, SC. The team had only competed in steel-head and crate late model events with Ben Watkins as the driver during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, with much success around the Carolinas in the car.
A surprise visit by Chris Ferguson to the Lancaster event found them chasing the car during the early stages of the race, including a chase up the hill in turn three, when he scraped the wall during qualifying, landing him in 13th place position to start the race.
Watkins lead the race early, holding off charges from Pursley and Luke Roffers, who each started in the top four. Tim Allen, who was second-fastest, retired early from the event in the first laps. As Watkins paced his way around the big track, Ferguson was carefully maneuvering his way to the front. He had made it into the top seven by halfway.
A lap 27 caution was the scariest of the event, as Chris Ferguson and Ben Watkins were chasing race leader Johnny Pursley, who passed Watkins exiting turn four and edged him at the line to complete the lap. Ferguson railed past Watkins for second-place as the two quickly came up on lapped traffic. Ferguson was able to pass the slower cars, but Watkins ran out of room in a hurry and spun to the inside, making massive contact with the interior concrete retaining wall. His car had to be towed pitside by two wreckers.
The final ten laps of the event were amazing, as Pursley and Ferguson battled side-by-side around the track. On lap 38, Ferguson completed his run to the front and went on to win the third race in as many weeks with his Langley Collision Center of Lancaster, SC, Great America Beershine Warrior car of Mt. Holly NC.
2014 Rookie of the Year Race Heats Up
One driver that is gaining momentum in the 2014 season is first-year super late model driver Jonathan Edwards of Lake Wylie, SC. The young wheelman from York County, SC is making quite a statement in the Renegade Race Fuels Rookie of the Year race with Anthony Sanders (Big A) of Spartanburg, SC. Edwards ran a very conservative race over the bulk of the event, trying to stay out of trouble and gain some seat time at a track he only has one start on with Clash. He finished 13th in the event, from 10th position, having battled several issues with his car and the blackend-over track during the event. Sanders trails Edwards by nine points (150 – 141).
Carolina Clash Points Top Fourteen
In 2014, the Carolina Clash top drivers who register for the required number of races will be eligible to contend for the series $10,000 championship. The top 10 places in the series championship chase will be awarded a cash bonus, along with a trip to the awards banquet in January 2015 in Concord, North Carolina.